Aegis Trust, a leading British NGO that campaigns for prevention of genocide worldwide, has called upon the UK government to close legal loopholes that have allowed foreign war criminals to escape prosecution in the UK.
The NGO says several people suspected of committing torture and genocide overseas in countries like Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka have entered the country and live freely.
Aegis Trust says one of the reasons these fugitives manage to escape justice is because of a gap in the English legal system that provides no jurisdiction for UK courts to handle cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and most war crimes committed by foreigners before 2001.
The laws in the UK on cases of international justice seem to be lenient and could shield some of the world’s most wanted fugitives from justice.
For example, Aegis Trust, says Felicien Kabuga, the key genocide financier with a $5 million bounty on his head entered and left the UK freely. Fugitives like Vincent Bajinya, Charles Munyaneza, Celestin Ugirashebuja and Emmanuel Nteziryayo have also benefited from this gap in the law.
The four were arrested in the UK after an indictment issued by Kigali that described the crimes they committed during the 1994 Tutsi Genocide. Rwanda had wanted them to be extradited and face trial on their home soil.
However, despite an existing special agreement between Britain and Rwanda, the four men were set free by a UK court. This simply means that these fugitives might never face trial for the crimes they committed.
But Rwanda still has a strong case against the four men. As ring leaders of militia groups, the four are accused of planning meetings in which the killing of Tutsis was discussed.
They also made errant speeches urging extremists to kill Tutsis and portraying them as a threat to their Hutu brothers.
We strongly believe in reform that Aegis Trust is pushing for. Indeed criminal justice systems around the world should be designed to deal with cases of this nature.
And for Rwanda in particular, the best solution lies in sending back such fugitives to stand trial on soils where blood of innocent lives they killed still crie out for justice.